Is Google Outpacing Apple?

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) may still have the most popular smartphone and the most popular tablet, but it’s running out of places to be number 1, and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is pushing hard to ensure that’s the case.

When Apple came out with the iPhone, it may have been able to steal the market with what some would call the first smartphone of its kind. With the addition of the app store and a massive stock of apps to choose from, Apple had great sway over the market.

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But, since Google’s entry in the smartphone market, Apple has been losing its lead in many fields. Recently, Google’s app store has even matched Apple’s.

In the fourth quarter, Google managed to double the sale of applications in its online store, while Apple only boosted its revenue 20 percent. Back in October, Google boasted 700,000 applications, matching Apple’s count for that month, and Google doesn’t plan to slow the expansion of its market…

Apple still has some advantages in the app marketplace. For one, the linking of credit cards to users’ iTunes accounts makes it easier for users to purchase apps. Also, the limited variety of iPhones makes it easier for app developers to do their jobs, as fewer version of the apps are required — where an app might need 2,400 versions for Android, it would only need 40 for iOS.

However, Google is steadily improving its app environment, working with developers to help make their work easier. And it’s working. Where app developers had only taken 15 percent of their revenue from Google a year ago, now they make as much as 40 percent. Google is also working to make it easier for users to purchase apps — in Japan and South Korea, app purchases can be billed directly to mobile carriers, and developer revenues in those areas jumped almost 14-fold.

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While the iPhone may still be the single most-popular smartphone, it is facing an ever growing swarm of Android devices. Google’s divide-and-conquer approach of sharing its Android operating system with smartphone manufacturers like Samsung (SSNLF.PK), HTC, and countless others, has allowed the software to take too large of a market share to be ignored. And with that dominance, Google has been increasingly able to overtake Apple in various aspects of the smartphone market.

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